Boxing is enjoying something of a renaissance in terms of popularity right now, with both men and women taking up what is not only an invigorating sport, but great exercise. Learning to box involves a lot more than simply knowing where and when to land the punches; it also teaches you a great deal about discipline and patience, and how to move effectively in the confined space of the ring.
Training at the gym is, of course, a necessity – and with a trainer you know, trust and work well with – yet you also need to get that extra work in when you can, so no doubt you have equipment at home in a spare room or garage, the latter being a great choice for a home gym, so you can indulge in a little training whenever you want.
One of the essential items in your home gym set-up is the punch bag. The only question is which do you buy – is it better to use a free standing bag, or a hanging punch bag? To be fair, the choice is largely personal, but there are certain pros and cons with each. We took a look at some of them, and have put together our view on the free standing punch bag vs. hanging punch bag debate.
Free Standing Punching Bag vs Hanging Punch Bag
So.. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Hanging Punch Bag
The hanging punch bag is the traditional type that you will likely find in any gym. Quite simply, it hangs from a mounting and swings freely, and is therefore open to movement in all directions. Also known as the heavy bag, this type of punch bag has many advantages – yet also caries with it a couple of potential problems.
The heavy bag is excellent for all types of boxing – and MMA – training and will provide the most impressive results, yet you do need a specific place to hang it. These bags either fit on a permanent mounting on the ceiling – so you need to check that you have sufficient construction up there to hold it – or you can buy a stand designed for hanging the heavy bag – more on that in a moment. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the hanging punch bag.
We recommend the everlast hanging punch bag.
- Resistance – the idea behind a heavy bag is that it is, well, heavy, and therefore provides a great deal of resistance. This is what you need if you are to gain the right experience and benefit from your training. Stability also comes with this resistance – your bag may hang but its weight (there are many weights to choose from to suit your needs) means that you have hit very hard to move it any distance – and stability is a great aid to conditioning.
- Swinging – as said above, it takes a lot to move a heavy bag any distance, but it will swing. Swinging gives you a sort of simulation of an opponent moving, and can be a great way of improving your responses as you don’t always know the trajectory the bag is going to take.
- Durability – the hanging bag – in fact, any punch bag – is designed to withstand some serious abuse, so you can hit it as hard as you like without fear of damage. If you buy a quality bag you can expect many year of use from your hanging bag, no matter how often you train with it. It will, eventually, succumb to wear and tear, but the good ones will last you a sensible amount of time.
- Cost – compared to the free standing punch bag, you will find the hanging bag to be cheaper. This is because in its basic form, it is a far more simple concept and therefore cheaper to make and sell. However, be aware of the need to fit it – we are about to talk about that below.
- Space – a hanging bag requires a decent space in which to use it. You need a clear room with plenty of movement area around the bag itself, and if it is not hanging from a stand, remember it will be permanent.
- Fitting – this is the main drawback of a hanging bag; it will need to be hung, and there are two ways of dong this. The first is to purchase a special mounting that you fix to your ceiling; for this to be viable, you need to ensure you have sufficient strength in the rafters above the room you are using. If not, you need to purchase a special stand from which to hang the bag. This can be an expensive piece of kit, and will also take up a lot of room.
So, the hanging or heavy bag is great for training if you have the room and ability to hang it, and costs less. Now let’s check out the alternative.
Free Standing Punch Bag
The alternative to the heavy bag is the free standing punch bag, and these have become very popular in recent years, especially with those who have limited space. The bag is attached to a stand and a base, and is on a strong but flexible support in an upright fashion. This means it does not need as much room as the hanging bag, but then it is not as versatile.
Free standing bags tend to be lighter than hanging bags, so do not provide as much resistance, and they are reportedly not as durable. The basic set up means that if hit hard enough they can also fall, but this problem can be alleviated by making sure the base is adequately weighted (you fill a hollow base with sand or water for weighting). Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the free standing punch bag.
We recommend the Wavemaster Century.
- Compact – you don’t need as much space to use a free standing bag as you do the heavy bag. It has limited movement and is fixed on a stand so will easily fit in a smaller room for regular use. Also, you can simply tuck it away in a corner when not in use, so that room can be one you use for other purposes too – great for if you live in a small house or apartment.
- No Installation – a free standing bag does not require potentially costly hanging mounts or an expensive stand; it comes complete with the base and support – you may have to fit them together and fill the base to weight it – and is ready to use pretty much out of the box. This convenience and the fact there is no need for strong overhead supports makes this type of bag very popular.
- Versatile – the movement you get with a free standing bag – it is supported on a type of sprung stand that moves very freely indeed – is perfect for training in reactions, so will be great for some forms of martial arts, as they can rebound very quickly indeed.
- Durability – by its very nature, the free standing bag may not be as strongly made or durable as a heavy bag, and you will therefore not get as much life out of it. They have been reported tear or split more easily.
- Lack of Resistance – the springy stand means you don’t get the resistance that you would with a hanging bag, so it may not be ideal for very heavy punches. This also means that, due to the movement, this type of bag is not as useful in developing the necessary defensive and offensive skills.
- Stability – a powerful boxer could easily knock the free standing bag over, although extra weighting in the base can alleviate this.
- Cost – for the basic kit, you will find a free standing bag to be more expensive than a hanging bag, and as it may not last as long, the value for money element comes into the picture.
That’s our two types of bags considered, so which is for you? Let’s see if we can help!
Which is for you, the hanging bag or the free standing option? We’ll start by saying that the main defining factor here will be the space you have available, and the type of property you are looking to put your punch bag in.
If you have only a very small room available, and maybe not a dedicated gym room, your best option is to opt for the free standing bag. Despite its pitfalls, this is the only real option for anyone with limited room, or for those who do not have the strong rafters or other support to install a hanging bag.
If, however, you have the room and you know you can fit the mountings with sufficient strength to hold it, the hanging punch bag is the way to go. It provides greater resistance, is more versatile, and will last a lot longer, and is cheaper too.
The choice is yours – you may have tried both and decided you prefer one to the other – so we hope we have helped you get to grips with the pros and cons of the hanging and free standing punch bag.